Inside the Matchups: LSU vs. UCLA

At the beginning of the season, either LSU or UCLA could have dreamed about the game each is about to play.

UCLA advanced to the Final Four by defeating Memphis 50-45 in the Oakland Regional while LSU knocked off Texas to win the Atlanta Bracket.


The Bruins (31-6), one of the most storied basketball programs ever sporting 11 national titles, is back in the Final Four for the time since winning their last title in 1995. LSU (27-8) returns to the big show for first time in a generation dating back to 1986.


UCLA may have taken an ugly approach in reaching the national semifinals slipping past Alabama (62-59), Gonzaga (73-71) and Memphis (50-45) to squeak into the Final Four.


The Bruins rallied from 11 down to shock Gonzaga, and then lulled No. 1 seed Memphis to sleep in a snoozer regional final victory.


"If I was at home watching, I probably would have turned it off," UCLA senior Cedric Bozeman said of the Memphis win. "It wasn't very pretty. But it doesn't matter. What do they say? By any means necessary, just get it done. And we got it done."


It seems "ugly" was the way to go on the left side of the bracket as the Tigers did their share of "out-uglying" both Duke and Texas. A much more difficult road traveled by LSU than UCLA, the Tigers knocked off the tournament's No. 1 overall seed Blue Devils 62-54, holding Duke to its lowest points total in a decade. The Tigers then needed overtime to upend No. 2 seeded Texas riding their talented frontcourt to a 70-60 win in the regional final.


"I am not surprised (to be where we are) because I know the talent that we have on this team," said LSU sophomore center Glen Davis. "We made a commitment and put in a lot of hard work to get where we are right now. We may be a young team, we are learning, but what can I say, we are here."


LSU coach John Brady said he and his team were still relishing Saturday's win Sunday night and it would be a couple of days before they delved into preparations for the Bruins.


"We watched for the score from the UCLA game last night, that was it," Brady said on Sunday night. "I don't really know a whole lot about UCLA. We made a commitment that we were going to take the next couple of days off because it has pretty hectic for us the last couple of weeks."


Davis said while he is not familiar with the history of the UCLA program, he is excited about getting the opportunity play the Bruins.


"It is a privilege to play a team with such great tradition as UCLA," Davis said. "But it is really just the next task at hand. We don't really look at the name on the jersey. We just go out and play ball the way we know how to play ball."









Arron Affalo           Garrett Temple




LSU hasn't been blessed with the best scoring from its guards so far in the NCAA Tournament. But what the Tigers' backcourt has done defensively may be more valuable. Garrett Temple could arguably be named the Most Valuable Player of the entire NCAA Tournament holding Duke's J.J. Redick to a season-low 11 points in the Sweet 16.


However, Temple's shot has been wildly off the mark. The 6-5 guard went 2 for 9 from the floor and 0 for 6 from the three-point line against Texas. Temple will draw Arron Affalo, the Bruins' leading scorer, who averages 16.6 per game. Both Temple and Affalo stand 6-5, but the LSU guard gives up a considerable amount in weight as Affalo is a formidable 200 pounds. Darrel Mitchell hasn't shot the ball the way he did in midseason, but he delivered timely three-pointers against Duke and Texas and how can anyone forget the game-winning trey against Texas A&M.






Glen Davis            Ryan Hollins




It would be logical to assume UCLA has an advantage at guard with Affalo and Jordan Farmar combing to score 30.2 points per game.


But the frontcourt will swing the advantage wildly in LSU's favor as the Tigers duo of Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas far outdistance anything the Bruins can put in the paint.


Sure UCLA has the 7-0 Ryan Hollins, but the senior center weighs in at just 225 pounds and gives up almost 100 pounds to Davis, who will likely bully his way around inside. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute better be ready for shot blocking specialist Thomas. Mbah a Moute is similar in build, but will have trouble reaching his 8.8 points per game against the freakish Thomas.






Darrel Mitchell         Jordan Farmar


Biggest Mismatch


Davis versus Collins. Sure Collins has three inches on Big Baby, but the weight differential will produce a glaring mismatch as Davis will pirouette his way around Collins in the paint. Also, look for Farmar to have a size advantage over Mitchell, standing some four inches taller than the 5-10 senior LSU guard.





Tasmin Mitchell




Everyone is still waiting for freshman Tasmin Mitchell to put together the breakout game that will prove to be the difference in a game. Mitchell scored 10 points against Duke and while he did hit a huge three for the Tigers down the stretch versus Texas, the Denham Springs native was 2 of 8 from the floor for just six points. If Mitchell finally catches fire, he could be the difference in the game for LSU.





Tyrus Thomas




It looks as if it could be an all-SEC national championship game. The Florida Gators are playing as well as ever right now. Although George Mason has knocked off one powerhouse after another through four rounds, the Gators look unstoppable and midnight should strike for the Patriots. LSU has too much inside stuff for the Bruins and should advance to the national title matchup. The Tigers can't seem to put teams away and the score should be close, but UCLA has no answer for LSU's inside presence meaning too much Davis and Thomas. Toss in the fact Temple may be the best defender in the nation, don't expect Affalo to light it up, which could mean bad things for the Bruins.


LSU 64, UCLA 57



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